Art History Lectures

Athenaeum Library Art History Lectures

Art History Lectures

Vincent van Gogh / Paul Cezanne

Presented by Linda Blair


Mondays, January 23 & 30 & February 6, 13 & 20, 2017

All lectures begin at 7:30PM


The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

                                                                          —Pablo Picasso


This five-week class will revisit a popular 2013 class devoted to the art of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne and will include new research, especially the findings of a recent Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) exhibition, "On the Verge of Insanity." 


Van Gogh and Cezanne first met in Paris in 1886. They despised each other, a contempt that spilled over in their opinions of each other's art. As well they would, for their painting style was totally antithetical. Vincent injected his emotional response into his subject matter; Cezanne, always aloof from his subject matter, builds psychological barriers in his strict study of form. We can't find Cezanne, the man, in his paintings; in Vincent's, we can't avoid him. Vincent's art is visceral; Cezanne's, cerebral. Cezanne's paintings must be studied carefully, filtered through the intellect; Vincent's work is a punch in the gut. Vincent's paintings explode in a burst of color; Cezanne's reflect an exquisitely balanced tension between opposing forms. Cezanne's forms are solid and immutable, whereas Vincent's inanimate objects have an uncanny inner animation, a dancing, kinetic energy. For Cezanne, each brush stroke was an agonizing decision; Vincent squeezed the pigment right out of the tube, dexterously and unerringly.  


This polarization of style—form, color and emotional content—makes the contrast between the two artists highly instructive in the basic, formal values of art. At the same time, both artists' canvases are unsettling studies of high emotion versus suppressed emotion, and of the struggle of two deeply burdened personalities.  


Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Room

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

1008 Wall Street

La Jolla, CA 92037



Series tickets: $60 for members/ $85 for nonmembers

Individual tickets: $14 for members/ $19 for nonmembers



Online tickets are subject to ticketing and credit card fees.